Flash Fiction: The Cadaver’s Surprise

This week’s prompt over at Carrot Ranch is an odd one: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a navel story. It can include a belly-button, feature an omphalos (geological or cultural), or extend to navel-gazing (used in meditation or to describe excessive self-contemplation).

For my story, I’m stretching the definition of “fiction” a bit: It’s based on my experience in a high school anatomy class. I was on a track for students considering pre-med, and part of that was going to the hospital and observing the dissection of a cadaver. What I describe in the story really happened. So let’s call it a flash memoir.

The Cadaver’s Surprise

belly button

The cadaver rests naked on the table. Her skin is ashen, her face covered with a white towel. My mind tricks me into thinking she’s breathing.

This was someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother. Now she lies here, pre-dissected for us, the potential medical students of tomorrow.

“Know what I wondered before I studied anatomy?” the teacher asks.

We stand in respectful silence.

“I wondered what the back of a belly button looks like.” With that, she lifts the skin covering the abdomen, revealing the dark side of the navel.

I bet the dead woman never thought anyone would look there.

8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Cadaver’s Surprise

  1. Pingback: Gazing at the Navel « Carrot Ranch Communications

  2. That’s a great story to share under the heading of “stranger than fiction”! No longer do pre-med students need to lurk as grave robbers to answer such questions. Your teacher was in the right field; his question never entered my mind! Of course, he could have been a great writer of thrillers, too.


  3. Now, that IS intriguing. (My grandmother, a devoted teacher, donated her body to the medical school in our city, where I happened to work at the time of her death. I had never been bothered by the cadavers, but I avoided that area when she was there. That was…my GRANDMA.)

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